No. 19 is a strange one... A lot of people label this as a cold, heartless, "ice queen/boardroom bitch", kind of fragrance. I don't get that at all. To me it smells like a bunch of freshly cut morning spring flowers being newly placed in a vase.
I find this to be very soft, slightly powdery, and sensual. I don't find it "unemotional" or whatever. To me I think Chanel Cristalle fulfills all of those previous labels, that is one that I see as more masculine (and one which as a man I happily wear). No. 19 EDT opens a little like the Cristalle EDT does (hyacinch and bergamot) but the galbanum really gives it an amazing quality (warm and sensual). The powdery iris is really beautiful here. It's clean and fresh and sexy at the same time. I do get Oakmoss and Vetiver and I think the earthiness of the Iris (orris root) and the dryness of the Vetiver compliment each other beautifully.
It's true that this fragrance is the opposite of "girly", as it definitely gives off a grown up vibe, but I wouldn't say it's a "cold-hearted bitch" kind of perfume. To me it's quite alive and soft. The kind of person I would see wearing this would be an intellectual, kind hearted young woman, the kind of girl who is really attractive with a sweater and glasses who always has her head in a book, but doesn't know just how beautiful she is kind of thing. Alternatively any woman who wears a suit to work or academic but deep down is still really kind and loving to those around her.
With reference to the unisex quality often attributed to this, I find Chanel Cristalle (also by Henri Robert) more masculine than this, but something like "Dior Homme" (also an iris leathery fragrance) more feminine than this, it being sweeter and more gourmand than No. 19. Coincidentally... I know that my grandfather sometimes wears on occasion so I think it certainly wouldn't be out of place being worn on a man.
As mentioned before, this was Gabrielle Chanel's signature scent. It was originally private and exclusive to her, before being released publicly just before she died. However, that being said... I'm now starting to get a pattern in late Chanel perfumer, Henri Robert's creations: Chanel Pour Monsieur (1955) is a green Chypre, No. 19 (1971) is a green floral, and Cristalle (1974) is floral Chypre. All have Citrus notes, all have Oakmoss, and all have Vetiver. But what sets No. 19 apart is the beautiful, sublime Iris note. Powdery, soft, warm and somehow elegantly clean... it undoubtedly makes No. 19 the plushest, most sensual, and most feminine of the trio. It really is a masterfully blended perfume.
I don't see Chanel No. 19 as a cold, "unemotional" fragrance, to me (a man's opinion) it's like meeting a very attractive yet quiet, shy, intellectual type of girl with a kind, warm, loving heart who you just want to cuddle up with on the sofa by the fire. This is just one gorgeously grown-up, well- balanced fragrance!